It has been three years since I moved to Montreal and it has become just as much “home” as Toronto will always be to me. The first year I lived in Montreal I returned home to Toronto for the holidays, and the year after that. It made the most sense as this is where my mom and family is.
Every year my mom and I would head over to my Aunt’s house (my Zia Dora) for tons of food and a house full of crazy loud Italians. I am an only child, so it was an especially happy time for me to be around so many family members all at once. Now looking back, I can say with certainty that it was my favourite time of year!
Tradition, be what it may, all of a sudden seems important to me this year. I miss the gathering on Christmas Eve, the Feast of Seven Fishes, putting the tiny baby Jesus figurine (which I think I remember had lost his left foot in a minor accident one year) in the his straw bed on the table-top manger at midnight and then of course opening the presents!
I even remember way back when I was around six or seven years old, listening to a radio station with my cousin Teresa that tracked Santa Claus as he left the North Pole on his way to deliver presents to children around the world. It’s amazing to think that I believed so much and wondered when he would get to my house. Of course he always got to my house and left before we got home that night from my Aunts house…. and of course there were always new presents under the tree when we got home and just a few crumbs left, and a half full glass of milk that I had left out before we left that night. Good job mom!
Now, more than twenty years later, I miss all that.
Christmas in my family hadn’t changed until 2008. That was the year that my Zia Dora passed away. She had been sick for a few years now and we had seen her change over the last couple of holidays. A once bubbly and busy bee at Christmas time cooking up a storm, she had become thinner and tired. It was hard to see her this way and I remember refraining from taking many photos that last christmas with her because I didn’t want to remember her that way. I am tearing up as I write this because it is making me realize how much has changed and will never quite be the same again. This is life I suppose.
I haven’t been back to Toronto for Christmas since that last year at my Zia’s house. My uncle and his kids took it all very hard. Dora was an amazing woman. She was very kind, gentle and extremely generous. She didn’t speak English, even after living in Canada for so long, but we always understood each other.
Dora: “Mangia! (Eat!)” Me: “yes”.
This year, I am grateful for my Montreal family – my boyfriend Max, friends and my Etiket family. I am blessed to have such wonderful people in my life and new experiences. Will I stay in Montreal this Christmas? Likely not. I am excited to spend time with friends and colleagues at our Holiday party next week, but I think it’s time to go back to Toronto and see my mom, my Uncle and cousins this year. Life is about to take another turn and I want to spend as much time as I can with everyone I can.
Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday season!
Etiket Insider Beauty Editor